Sculptor Makes Three Sets Of Presidential Busts

Originally published on May 30, 2011 8:56 pm
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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Art Silverman tells us about that attraction, which you might be able to see someday.

ART SILVERMAN: David Adickes felt he could improve on Mount Rushmore's presidential quartet, by fashioning busts of all the U.S. presidents, 18-foot tall busts. And he's made three sets of them - all the presidents' heads. One set just sits in his yard in Houston. Another is in a closed theme park in Deadwood, South Dakota. And a third is in a defunct theme park in Williamsburg, Virginia.

BLOCK: So let's step back. First, let's meet the man with the dream.

DAVID ADICKES: My name is David Adickes. I'm a sculptor and a painter also.

SILVERMAN: But let's go back to the beginning of the story, if you can call this a story, back to the '90s. That's when the Adickes took a summer vacation in Canada. On the way back, he saw Mount Rushmore for the first time. He was overwhelmed by the majesty of those four presidents...

ADICKES: But disappointed that I couldn't get closer to it.

SILVERMAN: He wanted them to be approachable. So starting in 1997, using his own money, he began work.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

SILVERMAN: Adickes says Abraham Lincoln was the easiest to sculpt. On the other hand...

ADICKES: The hardest one was Jerry Ford, because he has sort of a square face with eyes and so forth that aren't really that unusual.

SILVERMAN: As for the set in South Dakota, there are now plans to reassemble them closer to Mount Rushmore and hopefully draw more business. The Williamsburg site, well, it shut down last fall. To the rescue comes Lawrence A. Creeger.

LAWRENCE A: If we can just get kids today to get interested in a few of the presidents, I would love that.

SILVERMAN: When the Williamsburg site folded, his first thought was to buy them and move them to a theme park he had in the works in New Orleans. But then he thought about his own roots.

CREEGER: I'm a Virginian, and I really believe that this park belongs in Virginia.

SILVERMAN: Creeger figures people go to Williamsburg to see the Colonial period re-enacted. A presidential theme park picks up the story from there. And he says visitors are in for a treat, as he was when he first laid eyes on the statues.

CREEGER: I was extremely impressed with them once I saw them in person. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, both Roosevelts are exceedingly well- done. I had a little problem with Richard Nixon.

SILVERMAN: Art Silverman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

BLOCK: ALL THINGS CONSIDERED continues right after this. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.